M.I.A. – [Live]

Monday, 06 August 2007

A hopelessly long line dots the circumference of the EchoPlex far into the night. Tonight, M.I.A. has arrived and the possibility for her to continue arriving is always a little tenuous, and so the line is long.

Inside, the room swallows you with the moist heat of a yelling maw. On the fringes of the crowd, it's confusing as to where we are: the mixed audience of pouty hipsters, overweight alternative girls, big booty hoes, and Gwen Stefani fanatics swill in the mirrored disco heat of the venue. But with every filthy, sweat-soaked, mid-song shift, I find my way closer to the front and at the heart where all are alike in thrown arms and nodding heads, singular to the dancehall breakbeats.

Slow to warm but soon in flames, the riled-out crowd responded to sass-spun M.I.A. as she reached out into the crowd that surrounded her to the electro-clipped rhythm. Unfortunately, the evening was carefully riled in when M.I.A.'s attempts at crowd surfing were stopped by the EchoPlex’ security guards. Nonetheless, shit was still off the hook. Accompanied by her own DJ and her back-up dancer/singer Maya, the trio clod through M.I.A.'s throbbing rhythms to hammer out some flashy verse and even flashier clothes. At times the performance struck strong evocations that gave an interesting context to the dancehall sound. Sampling a tinny tune that sounded like something taken off the neighborhood's ratty-ass ice cream truck, the music and M.I.A.'s ragga backdrop evoked a block party of humid late afternoons and hips jutting in beat. At the end of her set, M.I.A. pulled out people from the crowd, all of whom danced readily and close to the ladies on stage.

The evening's favorites were "Pull Up The People" and "Galang," the latter which was used in a Toyota commercial. Although M.I.A. has hit the big time, her widespread appeal did little to change the dynamics of her music or performance, because dance music isn't really a contentious and divisive medium. Although the mixed crowd seemed unsure at first of M.I.A.'s music, by the end of the evening it was evident in the way everyone fanned themselves outside the venue that all were sweaty, breathless, and ecstatic to have been present at the craziest shit that night.

For more on M.I.A., including tour dates and new tracks from her new album Kala, check here:

Download "Come Around (Remix)" – [mp3]

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